UConn-Notre Dame: I'm here for all the pettiness
Just when you thought it couldn't get any pettier.
Muffet McGraw's Twitter account has blocked Breanna Stewart.
The Notre Dame coach apparently couldn't stand to see another tweet from Stewart, the former UConn standout and reigning WNBA MVP.
So, on Wednesday, Stewart did what any self-respecting UConn alumnus would do and she put McGraw on blast:
The tweet immediately went viral, and Stewart's former teammate Gabby Williams found the whole thing hilarious. Others had more pointed takes.
"It's the only way to defend you, Breanna. She didn't want you dropping 40 on her timeline."
"You won double the amount of national championships in a 4 year playing career than her in 31 years of coaching."
"You leasing that spot in her head, or do you own it at this point?"
"Haha you blocked her from getting 4 titles so it's only right that she blocks you back."
McGraw's decision to block Stewart is just a tiny speck in the timeline of the decades-spanning animosity between the Notre Dame and UConn women's basketball programs. Over the years, the ex-Big East conference rivals, and their longtime coaches McGraw and Geno Auriemma, have squared off in some amazing games, with a lot on the line.
Sunday was no exception.
The No. 2-ranked Huskies went to South Bend, Indiana, and avenged their Final Four loss to the top-ranked -- and defending national champion -- Irish, 89-71. Auriemma's squad dominated down the stretch, and freshman Christyn Williams impressed in her big-game debut with 28 points, but that's not what people are talking about four days later.
Nope, instead that would be the rumored words exchanged between Auriemma and Arike Ogunbowale, which resulted in a technical foul and apologies (to the fans, not UConn) from Ogunbowale and McGraw. Not to mention, Notre Dame's announcer calling UConn the "University of Kentucky" to the crowd and the UConn official account tweeting "thank u, next" as soon as the game ended.
And you know what? I AM HERE FOR IT.
Bring me all the petty, all the hate, all the controversy, all the drama. I will eat it up like an episode of "Vanderpump Rules." It makes for must-see television, and that's what women's basketball should be. It already has the talent and athletes to be just that -- it just could use that extra sizzle.
The NBA provides incredible athleticism night after night from the best male players in the world, but you know what else it provides? Petty drama, akin to the WWE or reality television.
And if you don't believe me, just ask Draymond Green. He is the King of Petty. The man wore a "Quickie" shirt (in reference to the Cleveland Cavaliers' home arena) during the Golden State Warriors' 2017 victory parade and rocked "Arthur"-themed sneakers (a clear shot at LeBron James) for the Christmas Day game last season. He knows what gets people talking.
There was no love lost between the Warriors and the Cavs in the last several NBA Finals. The teams hated one another, and it was apparent with every foul, news conference and disdainful glance on the court.
Heck, James, arguably the best to ever play the game, made tombstone-shaped Halloween cookies that said "Stephen Curry 2015-2016" and "Klay Thompson 2015-2016," after the Cavs beat the Warriors in the 2016 Finals. No player in the NBA -- no matter how talented or well-known they are -- is above pettiness.
The WNBA could only benefit from more hostile arenas and Draymond-level trolling because it gets people invested, and fans are essentially forced to take a side. No one merely likes the Warriors -- you either love them, or you hate them. But either way, you're watching.
Female athletes at the professional and college levels are often lauded for being role models and for growing their respective games. That's great and important, but they can be more than that. Women are allowed to be complex beings, and shouldn't be expected to remain simply in one box. They can be a role model and someone who's willing to get fired up, talk trash and even throw a dirty elbow now and then. Besides, getting casual fans talking also helps expand the game's reach. Connecticut Sun star and ESPN analyst Chiney Ogwumike perhaps said it best:
A lot of people are reading into the pettiness levels happening now in women's basketball between players & coaches... BUT this is the BIGGER ISSUE: our game does not need to be proper or perfect all the time. We need the drama. The disses. The controversies.- Chiney Ogwumike (@Chiney321) December 5, 2018
We need to be REAL.
She's right. People want to see athletes be real, and all the feelings that come with it. The UConn-Notre Dame rivalry means something to all associated and a win, or a loss, should elicit strong emotions from those involved. Ogunbowale's heated words were likely the result of a game full of frustration -- and that's OK.
Losing to UConn means something to her.